Tuesday, June 5, 2012
A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean
I am part of a book club, we read a book a month. This month we are reading A River Runs Through It and other Short Stories. There are 3 short stories in this collection.
The 1st story in the book is A River Runs Through It, this is a story about fishing and family. It is about the Maclean brothers Norman and Paul in the late 1930’s in Montana. The narrator is the older brother Norman who talks about a fishing trip with his younger troubled brother and Norman’s attempt to help Paul get straightened out. The Macleans are a Presbyterian family that describe life through their religion and their passion for fly fishing. Personally, I found all the fishing commentary boring and tedious, but it is obviously important to MacLean and his story line.
The 2nd story in the book is Logging and Pimping and “Your Pal Jim, this is a story about Maclean’s summer working as logger with a adversarial partner Jim. It tells how they spent the summer working against each other instead of with each other.
The 3rd story in the book is USFS 1919: The Ranger, the Cook, and the Hole in the Sky, this is a story about MacLean’s time in the forest service. I was unable to complete this story, by page 16 I was so bored out of my mind I just couldn’t finish reading it.
Personally, I find Norman MacLean’s writing flat and uninteresting. He narratives of his stories are of his family and experiences, but they are not engaging events. MacLean seems to focus on unimportant details that have no purpose in the story and he describes these details to a painful degree. For example, in Logging and Pimping and “Your Pal Jim, he spends an entire page of the story describing Jim’s logging boots and the boots have no significance to the storyline beyond this description. The stories seem to ramble and do not have a point, there is no epiphany found at the end that gives us a reason to read the story. In a way, I felt like I was listening to an old man talk about his youth with no point behind his recollections, just a desire to talk and not forget who he was when younger.